Almost three years after sparking outrage online, JK Rowling reflects on her transphobia controversy and Harry Potter fans’ reaction to the matter. The bestselling author only came under fire in mid-2020 when she took to social media to criticize an article’s use of the term “people who are menstruating,” with her comments widely considered anti-trans and disrespectful. Rowling has defended herself numerous times in the years since, while fans and former collaborators alike have been split right down the middle.
In the latest episode of the ongoing podcast, JK Rowling’s Witch Trials, the anonymous author opened up about the controversy surrounding her apparently transphobic comments. Although she did not admit regret for her actions, Rowling admitted that she feared for her and her family’s lives after Harry Potter backlash from fans, which included death threats, while it also indicated that others have come to her defense. Watch Rowling’s reflection on the controversy below:
I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many people who had loved my books would be deeply unhappy with me. I knew that. I knew because I could see that they believed they were living the values that I espoused in those books. I could tell they thought they were fighting for the underdog and difference and justice. And I thought it would be easier not to, you know, this could be really bad. And frankly, it’s been bad. Personally, it hasn’t been fun. And I have at times feared for my safety and overwhelmingly for the safety of my family.
Time will tell if I was wrong. All I can say is that I’ve thought long and hard about it and I’ve listened, I promise, to the other side. And I absolutely believe that there is something dangerous about this movement and it needs to be challenged. But at the same time, I have to tell you, a ton of Potter fans were still with me. And indeed, a ton of Potter fans were grateful that I had said what I said.
Most actors from Harry Potter franchise has spoken out against Rowling’s transphobic comments, with Daniel Radcliffe apologizing to fans of the series and the LGBTQ+ community for her words. However, she has not been without some defenders, as Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes has criticized those who are critical of her for their “disturbing” level of hatred for the author, while Luna Lovegood actress Evanna Lynch most recently felt that audiences should give her a platform to share her opinions.
Warner Bros., the studio behind Harry Potter and Fantastic beasts movie, and Universal Studios Parks & Resorts, home of the Hogwarts theme park, have gone back and forth in their responses, stressing their support for the LGBTQ+ community while also condemning threats against Rowling. The backlash from fans has led to a general uncertainty for the continued success of the franchise, as some took to boycotting Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and the recently published Hogwarts Legacy video games.
Although the third installment in Fantastic beasts franchise was its lowest grossing and potentially killed plans for the final two chapters, Hogwarts Legacy continued to garner positive reviews and broke several records for Warner Bros. Games, indicating that Rowling’s comments may have done no harm Harry Potter brand entirely for the future. Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels recently teased that the Wizarding World expansion is only just beginning for the studio, though it’s more Fantastic beastsan adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or a full-on reboot remains to be seen.
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